I’ve mentioned the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival a lot in the past, and one of the things I like best about this annual gathering of writers, editors, and readers of queer literature is catching up with old friends and making new ones. This year, meeting Fiona Riley was one of the highlights for me: enthusiastic, charming, and all-around wonderful, I had a great time hanging out with her and her wife, and she also provided a much-needed kick in the pants to me to get my own writing practice into higher gear.
Fiona’s debut novel, Miss Match, comes out this week officially. It’s already available at the Bold Strokes Books website, so go check it out. (Bonus: Any ebook you order from the site this month gets you a free copy of “Three,” the ’Nathan Burgoine story that introduced the characters at the centre* of his new novel Triad Blood—but more about him later.)
*Because he’s Canadian, don’t ya know….
I was lucky enough to read Miss Match in advance last month, and it was quite the enjoyable read and, as an erotic lesbian romance, very much outside my wheelhouse. And that’s one of the things I enjoyed so much about it. As much as I looked to fiction while I was growing up for representations of myself, as an adult I am drawn to stories and characters outside my own experience.
Also, it’s just way sexy, yo.
After I finished reading it, I caught up with Fiona to ask her a few questions. Without further ado, here’s what she had to say. It’s long, but it’s pretty awesome, kind of like her.
Congratulations on your debut novel, first of all. I’m always interested in writers’ journeys to their first book. What was your writing background before this? Was writing a book something you’d always wanted to do?
I was about six or seven when I first remember the discussion of becoming a writer coming up with my neighborhood best friend. I was drawing with chalk on my driveway and randomly started writing little speeches or phrases that I made up on the spot. He told me I should be a writer. I think I laughed and purposely stepped on his Ninja Turtle pavement art. I was a total jerk that day. Once I developed an iota of maturity, I found myself really into music and poetry. I was drawn to the stories hidden in lyrics and rhymes as a preteen and teenager. I published my first poem at around age twelve and then another once I was in high school. It was a way for me to explore self-acceptance and creativity. I loved words and reading, it made sense to write as well.